The second edition of the developer festival (DevFest) was themed, "Stepping Up", and it held on November 2, 2019 at the Grand Atrium, Lekki, Lagos.

DevFest 2019 was indeed grand, a step up from DevFest 2018—an attestation to its theme. The annual festival, which began as Google I/O Extended Event in 2017, was organized by the Google Developers Group (GDG) Lagos—an open and volunteer-led community that provides opportunity for developers to connect, learn and grow.

Google I/O is an annual developer conference held by Google in Mountain View, California. I/O Extended Events are organized by different communities, usually GDGs, across different locations. During these events, the organisers can livestream the I/O itself or supplement it with thier own programmes.

#DevFestLagos 2019 organising team had eight members: Femi Taiwo (Chief Technical Officer at INITS Limited), Gbolahan Alli, Judith Nwokike, Kelvin Umechukwu, Emmanuel Bakare, Chizoba Ogbonna, Jesudetan Onasanya and Moyin Adeyemi.

The crème de la crème of Nigeria's techosystem were present at #DevFest2019, including the Lagos State Commissioner of Science and Technology, Hakeem Fahm; Special Adviser on Innovation and Technology to the governor, Tunbosun Alake; Google's Director of the West Africa region, Juliet Ehimuan; Google's Program Manager for Developers Relations in Sub-Saharan Africa, Aniedi Udo-Obong; Co-founder and CEO of Flutterwave, Olugbenga Agboola; and Chief Semantic Architect at CYMANTIKS Nigeria Limited, Emeka Okoye.

A recap of what happened at #DevFest 2019

There was a downpour in the early hours of the day, but it didn't deter 2,500+ developers, designers and tech enthusiasts to attend #DevFestLagos 2019.

Similar to last year's edition where early birds got DevFest tees and swags, the first 200 women to arrive at the Grand Atrium had a breakfast session under the auspices of Women Techmakers and Women Will between 7:30 AM and 9:00 AM. The women were addressed by Juliet Ehimuan, Gift Egwuenu (Software Engineer at Andela), Adora Nwodo (Software Engineer at Microsoft) and Ada Nduka Oyom (Developer Relations Ecosystem Community Manager at Google).

The main event kicked off with a welcome address by Femi Taiwo. In his address, Femi charged the attendees to key into the conference theme, Stepping Up, by deliberately learning, doing things and sharing experiences. He reeled out the rules of engagement at the conference and other important information such as the WiFi password.

The last year's DevFest app was updated with new information and Femi urged every attendee to download the app for easy navigation and smooth experience at #DevFestLagos 2019. After him, Aniedi mounted the podium to speak about how Google is empowering people to break barriers.

Thereafter, Juliet delivered a talk on "Innovation Fueled by the Power of Possibilities". She said, "It's becoming very evident that Africa's biggest challenges will not be solved by traditional methods of the past", hence, software developers, engineers and technology experts are key to the development of the continent and its future.

She cited how machine learning is being used by farmers in Tanzania to boost their produce and a Kenyan startup, Tambua Health, to revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of cardiopulmonary diseases.

Juliet, therefore, charged techpreneurs to provide innovative solutions to the extant challenges in their community, rather than creating sexy solutions and looking for problems to solve. "See problems, think solutions", Juliet advised. And these solutions don't have to be the first; they only need to be innovative and revolutionary.

Airbnb, Google Search and the iPod are examples of innovative solutions that revolutionized industries. The Director of Google in West Africa redefined innovation as "the process of creating values by applying novel solutions to meaningful problems".

After her presentation, Hakeem Fahm and Tunbosun Alake addressed the attendees briefly. In their address, Alake hinted that the state government is planning to host a Lagos Tech Conference in December. The conference will bring together the private and public stakeholders in the techosystem to discuss the issues and chart a way forward.

Related: Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, four other partners launch low-cost co-working space initiative

This was a good set up for the keynote address by James Agada, former CEO of Computer Warehouse Group and now Founder of lxzdore Laboratories. His keynote address was titled, "Getting to 10x?".  

He posited that striving to become a 10x professional is essentially a rat race. So, developers, designers, engineers and other tech professionals should jettisoned the idea and focus on creating value. Mr James advised the attendees to have the right attitude; put in the efforts and persevere—"we die here"; stay curious; and practice—by building.

He asked two rhetorical questions to buttress his points,"What have you built today?" and "Have you taken a look at Android source code?".

To avoid information overload, there was an interlude for group photo and lunch.

After the lunch, there were concurrent sessions on different topics across the different Grand Atrium halls. At this point, the app came in handy because it has details of the different sessions: topic/summary, venue and the speaker. The sessions held include:

At the end of the programme, WeMove Technologies Limited was on ground to convey people back to their respective locations across the state.

In addition to Google, Flutterwave, InstaDeep, eWorker, max.ng, Decagon Institute and Hoover were sponsors of this year's DevFest.

Other observations

This year's DevFest really hit home. It scores some points ahead of DevFest 2018, which held at the Zone Tech Park, especially in the areas of turn out and organisation—there were more than 50 volunteers at DevFest Lagos 2019.

Also, the attendees connected with the talks on a deeper level and went home with actionable points. Ibrahim, one of the attendees I spoke with said, "DevFestLagos theme, Stepping Up, was more than only two words to me. It is instructive and the presentations of the speakers have helped me crystalized my next line of action to progress in my career".

However, Nigerianness reared its ugly head. Coupled with the downpour that slightly altered the schedule of programmes, there was power outage and the generating set couldn't power all the halls. Hence, the second half of the programme, after lunch, was had some glitches.

According to Aniedi, "It [#DevFestLagos 2019] was very far from perfect. Quite far. A lot that could go wrong did go wrong later in the day. Nonetheless, I'm thankful for our amazing speakers, a remarkable organising team, selfless volunteers and a very, very patient audience".

But lessons have been learnt and the next edition will be better.